NORTHERN PRAWN FISHERY

Major species:
Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawns, White and Red-legged Banana Prawns, Endeavour Prawns and King Prawns

Estimated catch 2009–10:
7466 tonnes

Gross value of production 2009-10:
$88.8 million

DEVELOPMENTS IN 2010–11

  • All 52 boat statutory fishing rights were used during the 2010 tiger prawn season (1 August to 30 November 2010). The total allowable tiger prawn effort was increased for the season to meet the maximum economic yield targets for the fishery. The effort increase was applied through a gear increase and additional fishing time. In 2010 operators were allowed to begin targeting tiger prawns from 1 May, through the removal of a spatial closure. The fishery experienced an increase in average catch rates (nominal catch per unit of effort) for 2010 (0.416 tonne per day) compared with 2009 (0.325 tonne per day). Effort was within the sustainable limits for the fishery.
  • During the 2011 banana prawn season (1 April to 24 June 2011) 51 of the 52 boat statutory fishing rights were used. The season was extended because the unique level of rainfall observed during the 2010–11 summer was expected to result in a large availability of banana prawns. Decision rules were applied during the season, with average catch rates meeting the required trigger points for the fishery to remain open for the maximum 12-week season. The estimated total catch for the 2011 season was 6632 tonnes.
  • During 2010–11, the three-year co-management trial in the fishery continued and progressed well. The trial has the Northern Prawn Fishery Industry Pty Ltd taking on greater responsibility for management of providers for the pre-season surveys, as well as managing catch and effort data and the crew-member observer program. The industry association is responsible for making recommendations directly to AFMA on commercial and operational matters in the fishery and in 2011–12 they will also trial management of the scientific observer program.
  • The co-management trial has proved to be an effective way for industry to become more involved in the day-to-day management of the fishery and will continue in 2011–12, while a review is undertaken. Any outcomes of the review will be considered when developing the future plan for co-management in the fishery.

REPORT AGAINST MANAGEMENT PLAN

The fishery is managed through a combination of input controls (limited entry, seasonal closures, gear restrictions and operational controls), which are implemented under the Northern Prawn Fishery Management Plan 1995. Management arrangements for the fishery remained unchanged for 2010–11, however a transition to output controls in the form of individual transferable quota has begun. It is expected that the fishery will be operating under output controls
by August 2012.

To implement output controls in the fishery, the existing management plan needs to be revoked and replaced with a newly drafted management plan. Drafting of the new plan has commenced. AFMA is working closely with stakeholders to develop the most cost effective and practical system for setting total allowable catches.

The Northern Prawn Fishery aims to be operating under output controls by August 2012

The Northern Prawn Fishery aims to be operating under output controls by August 2012